A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to ‘be myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop (p. 225).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Who is “the real you”? Is it the sum total of the good and bad experiences; achievements you’ve made and abuses you’ve faced? Is it the choices you make when nobody’s looking or when all eyes are on you; is realness revealed by isolation or pressure?
Is the real you the first impulse you have in a given situation or that voice of better judgment that echoes afterwards; does my desire or my reason define “me”? Is it your genetic composition or the immaterial voice in your head; does my body or spirit define “me”?
These are hard, make-your-head-hurt questions. Lewis answers the question this way (paraphrased), the real you is the you God made you to be. Further, the real you (ultimate authenticity) can only be realized when you allow God to invade your life.
Until then the assortment of shaping influences in our life make us dance like a kite in the wind instead of catching those influences like the sail of a ship to move with the Captain’s purpose. Until God has His rightful place in my life things about me compete to define me; descriptions strive to become definitions.
Until God has His rightful place pride or shame become the slippery ice on which I assess every action I take, quality I have, and dream I aspire. Everything is either “better than” or “not good enough.” The result is restless comparison that mutates my identity with each change in my circumstance or cements my identity in a way that makes it hard for me to love.
But when God steps in to my strengths and weaknesses, failures and successes, quirks and social norms, then descriptions can remain descriptions. I can have weaknesses without being weak. I can fail without being a failure. I can have strengths and successes without pride.
This is neither self-esteem positive thinking nor everyone-gets-a-trophy merit-less incentivizing. It is redemption living and breathing in our souls. It is the gospel giving definition and purpose to our sin, suffering, and identity.
Strengths are gifts given for a purpose. Successes are satisfying advancements of a kingdom bigger than your own. Weaknesses are opportunities for God to receive glory. Failures are opportunities to humbly demonstrate how the gospel changes guilt and shame.
This frees you to be you without fear – fear of failure or success; fear of rejection or “being found out” after acceptance. The one who knows you best, lives with you most intimately, and whose opinion matters most (God) is the one who loves you most. That is the freedom you were looking for in every other relationship; attempt to hide/excel; or pondering about what it would mean to be “the real you.”
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